Lake Havasu City proposes taking over popular state park

[Mohave Daily News, Christine Harvey, Cronkite News Service, 2-16-2010] — With Arizona State Parks facing an uncertain future due to budget cuts, Lake Havasu City is proposing taking over operations of a popular facility there.  Unlike some other communities that have partnered to keep state parks open, however, Lake Havasu City wants a long-term lease to operate Lake Havasu State Park, home of the community’s busiest and largest boating ramp.

“Help us help you,” Mayor Mark Nexsen told the House Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee on Monday.  “The state cannot afford to keep our park open, and we cannot afford to have it close.”  In response to budget cuts, the Arizona State Parks Board plans to close 13 parks around the state while keeping nine open.  For now, Lake Havasu State Park is slated to remain open.

Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, who is sponsoring a bill to make the lease possible, said that could change. Her bill, HB 2786, would require Arizona State Parks Board to enter into a 25-year lease with Lake Havasu City, with the community paying the state $50,000 per year.  With Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford, the committee’s chairman, not in attendance, the panel put off voting on the proposal until next week.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona State Parks Board considers cuts

Reese Woodling, parks board chairman, reacts to news Thursday that some parks would need to close. (Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services)

[Source: Ed Tribble, Channel 12 News] — The latest round of budget cuts earlier this month could close down most state parks. Arizona State Parks Board members met Thursday to look at their options.  State parks are supposed to be tranquil places, somewhere to get away from life’s troubles. But due to budget cuts, the parks themselves are in trouble. “Without these state parks, people will be at a loss on where to go,” says Parks Board Chairman Reese Woodling.

At Thursday’s meeting, board members are making priorities: keep open parks that make money, and ones that don’t cost too much to run.  In mid December, lawmakers raided about $9 million from the park’s coffers. “It’s a horrible situation and sends a terrible message to our kids and future generations that we’re not willing to step up during these tough times,” says Sandy Bahr with the Sierra Club.

No word yet on which parks will close.  But some communities like Lake Havasu City let board members know they would be willing to lease parks so they could stay open. “We believe we could fold those into our existing park system, it’s close to another park, something we believe we could do very easily,” Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen says.

In the long term, the parks department would like to add a fee to vehicle registration. Cars with Arizona license plates could get into parks for free.  Out of state visitors would have to pay.   [Note: Read the full article at Arizona State Parks Board considers cuts.]